Last updated: March 6th, 2022
LinkedIn is a literal goldmine of ideal clients for your B2B efforts.
If you know how to harness the platform, your network, the network of your network, and the network of their network, the LinkedIn world is your oyster.
As an early-stage founder in a startup or business venture, LinkedIn is the ideal space to partner and find early clients for your business-oriented products.
As with any other platform, such as Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook – there are specific strategies that serve you – and some that don’t.
Instead of encouraging you to set off on a self-exploratory journey to teach yourself, I’m offering a simple guide here.
I’m diving into the nitty-gritty on:
- What not to do in jumping into personal messages (while making the most of your available research and message “credits” on LinkedIn)
- How to structure an early connection message (including examples)
- How to follow up with leads
- How to focus your content and LinkedIn presence
- What content to post that grabs the attention of your network and the LinkedIn algorithm
- How to make the most of your time in B2B prospecting efforts each week
Phew…lots to cover.
Before I jump into… we know that cold outreach is not the most fun thing in the world.
In fact, I know absolutely no one – even seasoned sales professionals – that jump out of bed and are like, “Let’s get these leads, man! I’m itching to cold DM a couple of hundred people I don’t know”.
Outbound business development and outreach are not at the top of the list in terms of fun activities in business building.
However, building a business is a fun concept. With every conversation and every lead, you get closer to attracting the people that align with your offer. You grow your audience and your bottom line.
That’s the real fun. Prospecting and lead generation is the vehicle. Every conversation has you driving the vehicle.
All progress is progress, whether forward or backward. Even backward progress results in progress later.
Make your funnel, actually a FUNnel.
Let’s attract you some B2B leads.
Is LinkedIn Good For Lead Generation?
In terms of making professional business connections, there is no contest in platform potential.
LinkedIn is built for business with industry-focused updates and content, skills, job updates, and business pages. Being on LinkedIn is like being at the center of a water cooler conversation at work. In a good way.
For CEOs with a social presence, 94% are on LinkedIn. It is the #1 destination to find Fortune 500 CEOs.
Additionally, according to the LinkedIn Business Insights Blog, 94% of B2B marketers rely on the platform and 80% of all B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
For B2B prospecting, there’s not much more I can say to convince you LinkedIn is your best decision for a social media approach.
If you’re seeking advice on B2C practices for younger audiences, have a more visual niche, or rely on more informal conversational community building, LinkedIn may not be your space. You may benefit from other social media networks.
How do I generate B2B leads on LinkedIn?
Here’s the secret sauce on how to set yourself up with a strong LinkedIn lead generation strategy.
Optimize your profile and your business page.
Do it specifically in that order.
People trust you as a person, more than they trust a brand or company post.
I received further insight on profile optimization and LinkedIn strategies from Denise Edwards, who’s the founder of SaaSLaunch.io, a company that specifically helps B2B tech startup founders launch, scale, and get funding using a 5 step SaaS launch system within 90 days.
According to Edwards:
“When it comes to your profile, it’s about your personal brand identity. Who are you behind your profile?”
Your posts as a founder or employed member, come across as more authentic than the company speaking to people directly.
Focus on optimizing your personal branding first and post to your profile directly – not the company page.
This goes against the grain of most branding advice on any other platform. Normally, you would be encouraged to promote the heck out of your company, on the company page. LinkedIn is the opposite.
Influential Executive ran a study on LinkedIn on this fact and found that executives and leaders outperformed their company and brand counterparts on engagement on the platform – by 320%.
Think about it – LinkedIn is built on sustained business connections. LinkedIn is in the business of connecting people to people and bridging networks.
Show up as a person to your network – or future network.
Optimize your main page and the business “real estate” it offers in these key areas that eyeballs are drawn to without scrolling at all on the page.
- Profile Picture: Edwards notes that you should aim to show who you are through a “professional and clean looking picture where you’re smiling (smiling shows openness). Avoid any pictures with your pet, spouse or children on there, as this is a professional site where the description of what you do as your profession should show on your personal picture as well.”
- Headline: Share what you do in a few keywords and a brief call-to-action. Edwards encourages LinkedIn users to make this section interesting to invite others to want to connect. Below she shares an example of a founder of Company X who helps other companies manage their finances:
- Numbers Wizard helping companies make sense of their numbers and help them skyrocket their Series X funds/growth
- LinkedIn banner: Share a branded, compelling banner image that features what you do in a way that someone can understand in 30 seconds or less. Tools like Canva can help you create this for free.
- Contact Info: People need to reach you, so share all the ways they can do so easily.
- Summary: Help your target audience understand your story in a brief summary with a call to action to get in touch easily. Edwards recommends constructing your bio summary with the following in mind:
This bio would be a bit more personal to who you are. You can talk about how you came to the realization of starting your company, what the background is to how you came up with the idea, maybe a little anecdote when you were a kid, maybe you liked numbers and you were always fascinated by numbers.
Find the common thread in your life that has led you to where you are, what you do, who you serve, and what your bigger mission is. This will engage and resonate with people who would love to be in your tribe, or in this case, be connected with you.
- Experience: For this section, don’t repeat your resume. Edwards recommends including “what your role is, and what your responsibilities are in a nutshell. Next to that, include what the company does and any links to the website or information that can connect prospects to other channels you are included in.”
She further recommends:
“If you have any licenses or certifications that should be of interest, please add them in this section, and last but not least, if you can get several different types of recommendations from your peers, colleagues, etc., that would help as well. People always want to know who you are as a person (if they can’t meet you of course) and they will get a good idea of who you are when they read the recommendations. So I would encourage people to add to this.”
Apply similar methodologies on your company page to align with your personal page. Have employees and team members optimize their real estate to speak the same language and present a unified company front.
Finally, just as you’re posting on your personal profile, have your employees post content and updates on their profiles.
Then elect to reshare content from your company profiles to highlight your employees. Or, highlight a supporter in your community who shares stories and wins to their profile.
Create quality over quantity in connections.
It helps to be seen as an authority on LinkedIn by having the awe-inducing 500+ connections on your profile.
However, don’t make the mistake of making connections with every cousin of your best friend’s brother.
Focus on solid connections that harness your current and future network in thoughtful ways.
Target high-value prospects. Network by CEOs and other key players in companies.
Maximize your current network by peering into the connections of current clients and network members.
Follow and connect with industry leaders and thought leaders in your niche or type of industry.
If you can’t find your ideal client, connect with their close decision-makers. For example, if you can’t target the company CEO for a particular business, do an advanced search of the company’s people and find the VP, the CEO’s executive assistant, or similar potential leads.
Search local businesses in your area. If you have connections in the area, you’ll easily find the overlap with “shared connections” that you can capitalize on (cold outreach message sample below).
Covet your credits.
Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn puts a cap on your search and Inmail credits.
Meaning, you can only search people’s profiles and send direct messages to a limited extent.
Your direct messages are referred to as “inmail credits” and this is the breakdown per each account type:
Individual (Free): 15
Recruiter Lite: 90
Every message sent and not reviewed or responded to – is a credit lost. If you’re in a business account and you send 40 messages that remain unopened, you have to wait until the next month to refresh that amount.
Every message responded to gives you a credit back.
Here’s how to sneak around and save your credits.
If the LinkedIn profiles you’re searching are “open”, meaning they are visible for you to go and view all details of the individual profile – jump in the DMs and send a message. You get to message these people with no credits!
If you have a shared or mutual connection, here’s a sample message:
“Hey, I noticed that we have a [Name of Person] as a shared connection. I wanted to see about starting a conversation about [XYZ] that [Name of Person} and I have been partnering over recently. Would love to hear your thoughts as time permits.“
If they are private on LinkedIn and you know they would be a valuable connection, send a connection request.
Don’t message until you have the connection secured and their profile is “open”. This saves you from spending precious search credits on a monthly basis.
If you’ve tried these avenues first and then returned to profiles that take credits, make sure to circle back and follow up.
The best way to follow up in a way that grabs attention is to use video and voice message capabilities.
Schedule a dedicated time to go through and send follow-up messages specifically within conversations with your leads.
Focus on sharing content that is short, concise, and catches attention.
Post short-form, relevant content within the platform.
LinkedIn is a social media platform that’s relatively low maintenance.
Unlike other platforms, you don’t have to post content on the strictest daily schedule to keep your engagement high. You also don’t have to continually share stories, Reels, and Clubhouse rooms to keep pace with the algorithm.
You just need relevant, original content delivered, at minimum, two times per week. Ideally, 3-4 times per week.
Edwards also voices the need to establish yourself as the authority figure that provides value in posting your content.
She encourages asking questions within your content to understand your prospect’s situation.
“It’s a give-and-take type of balance. It’s like having a relationship, you give and take. It’s the same online, you give by listening and sharing your expertise and experience and you take by people helping you with your questions that you might have. we’re all in a community together and at the end of the day, we’re human beings trying to strive for better.”
Additionally, be sure to post your original content from within the app.
If you’re uploading a video or sharing long-form (blog post level or lengthy) content, post it natively to the platform.
Platforms love keeping people within their spaces with content that maximizes their platform features.
Same case with LinkedIn. Videos and post content have a better reach when they’re directly uploaded to the LinkedIn platform. Instead of pasting a link to a YouTube video, upload a 10-minute or less video snippet.
Instead of copying the link to your blog posts, repurpose and syndicate your post content into LinkedIn publications.
If you keep your network in the app, LinkedIn will notice.
Beyond posting in-app, there’s no magic number of words or video length. It’s about your consistency and quality of content to meet the needs of your audience.
Focus on the types of content that do well.
The content that you post will depend on your offer and product.
Generally speaking, aim for 80% of your content to establish your authority and level of knowledge.
When you focus on providing educational content, you get people thinking about the “gap”.
The more you share about the “what” and “why”, the more people realize they are missing your product.
When you create content, focus on how you can get people thinking about how your product will help them address the “how”.
The rest of your approach should be based on sharing client wins and stories from those you partner with. These can be direct clients, students or customers, or people that you partner with on collaborating on content, like a podcast or blog post.
For your content, understand what future prospects need to hear.
Edwards says that in order to conduct successful outreach in various ways on the platform, “understand your prospects
Connect with authenticity.
One of the biggest mistakes with LinkedIn outreach is the reliance on automation.
With some LinkedIn marketing agencies and lead generation tools, automation is a priority.
This is one of the ways that you can target 1000 prospective leads in a day, but it doesn’t lead to a valuable return on investment.
Think of the last time you picked up a call, only to realize it was an automated spam call, you got a boilerplate email, or an Instagram direct message telling you that “YoU ArE SeLECtEd To BE oUR nEXT BrAnd AMbassAdor!” from a middle-man on behalf of the big company.
You probably didn’t feel very special.
Same idea here. Your prospects don’t feel the love either.
As a business in the early stages, you need to define your buyer process and journey before you can rely on automation.
When it comes to messages, this is a careful line even when you can afford to invest in these tools and “done-for-you” services.
Have the white-glove service ironed out for your customers to have a 5-star experience first. Connect with them uniquely and authentically. Connect with them in the way you would want someone to initiate a conversation with you.
Send messages that inspire continued conversation.
My name is [Full Name] and I’m a [Insert Title/Interest/Niche Focus] and I have a vision to [XYZ]. I’m reaching out to you to share a [adjective] [opportunity details], called [Company/Product Name].
[Share details in 2-3 sentences to share the overall focus and benefit of the product. Bonus: Share how it’s impacted you if you’re an employee. Then share what you need from the person you are interviewing. What’s in it for them?]
Let me know if you’re open to discussing further. The door is open and would love to connect.
Make the most of your time on the platform.
There are only so many hours in the workweek.
Guard your precious time and make the most of your outreach and connection efforts on LinkedIn.
Denise Edwards offers her top tip on how you can make the platform work for you in minutes a day.
- Focus on trying to reach an X amount of people per day, and this X depends on how many leads you want to have reached per week (consider reverse engineering your final goal and breaking it down into smaller goals).
- Let’s say you want to have at least 5 discovery conversations with 5 prospects per week, and you know that if you come into contact with 25 prospects through LinkedIn outreach and your conversion rate is 20%, you will have those 5 discovery calls, which is your goal for each week.
Like any other platform, LinkedIn has its own tips and tricks for achieving mastery of the platform and drawing in your ideal customers.